Do you remember the days when all we had were feature phones with little to no graphics and the look and feel, although it changed and varied from different carriers and devices, the UI was simple and plain? Well now we have smartphones – which for all intents and purposes are little handheld computers with really advanced and slick user interfaces, with tons of interactivity. These trends change about as often as smartphones do – which as anyone stuck in a two year contract with a carrier and dying to upgrade to the latest and greatest knows – is about every year!

I sat down with our company CEO and resident user experience expert, Lisa Calkins to get a feel on what the newest trends are in the mobile creative universe. Some are surprising, some not so much, but they are all beautiful examples of what is possible in user experience design. Enjoy!

Skeuomorphism and Augmented Reality           

Augmented Reality isn’t actually all that new; we have been writing about this for a few years now, but it is become more and more mainstream. Augmented reality is basically overlaying images and text on top of a real image using your phone camera. The Yelp! App does a great job of this.

Skeumorphism is a design concept that is meant to mimic something. Basically, this means the app looks like the object it is meant to resemble. A good example is an app that looks like an amplifier, with to-scale images of the dials and such you would see in a real-life amp.

Images as Backgrounds

This is a really popular design with many apps today. Weather.com uses this in their app, and Android has used it as the background of its OS for a while now.  It is pretty cool – because the background of many Weather apps like Accuweather and Weather.com change to reflect the current weather conditions.

New Ways to Navigate

Navigation used to be kind of boring, because it had to be obvious enough for the user to figure it out and know how to use it to get somewhere on an app. But people finally got creative and navigation is half of what makes a beautiful app now. Some new trends in this area are sidebars as menus, sometimes really clever sidebars with fun icons and colors. Wheels for navigation are starting to become popular as well; they just look really cool and make sense to the user.

Flatter, Simpler Icons

Icons and images used to be more 3-Dimensional. It seemed like every image had a shadow or some sort of design trick to make it appear less flat. Now we are seeing really simple and flat images and icons. Icons no longer have to be really complex or beautiful they really just have to easily portray their meaning. We also are seeing brighter color tones, like the example below.

However, even though icons are flat, simple, and obvious, we also are getting some pretty cool ways of toggling boxes and radio buttons. These are still 3-D and have an interactivity component.

Basically, apps are becoming simpler in some places and adding more interactivity in the places where it matters. Are you interested in how the trends in Mobile UI can be applied to your business or solution? Our expert user experience designers can help you, so give us a call!